Monday, August 31, 2015

the pride of Babylon

 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
Daniel 4:1-2

While the Jews were in exile in Babylon, God began stirring the pagan nation, starting most convincingly with the king. In this short section of the book of Daniel, written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew, the story shifts with this "letter" from Nebuchadnezzar to the components of his empire and beyond. And in this royal decree/letter there is an admission of God's greatness and the king's own humiliation before God.

It is the story of Nebuchadnezzar's own devastating fall from the throne. He was a proud monarch. As absolute emperor of a vast military dictatorship, he was proud of the monuments he was prone to build celebrating himself. Like most men, he wrapped his identity around his work. In this case, his work was a kingdom. The capital city of Babylon was his own personal exercise in vanity. But one day from his palace rooftop as he exulted in his own glory and took credit for an empire all to himself, God caused his mind to slip. He just fell into insanity at a moment of self-congratulatory vanity. He turned into a raving madman, living like a wild animal in the gardens he once built for his own ego.

Years went by with Nebuchadnezzar in this state of irrational lunacy. Until, one day, his reason returned, and he immediately knew that the God of heaven had both taken his sanity away and restored it again. He gave God the glory that he had once only exclusively held for himself. It is a powerful, if not disturbing, story of how important it is for us not to think too highly of our achievements. Human achievement is not the pinnacle of our existence. It calls us to worship in all we do because every bit of it is a gift from God.

The real insanity in Nebuchadnezzar's story is not his animal existence as a wild man. The real insanity started when he took credit for what God had made of him. When in a right mind, he glorified God. And so we should always see the events of our days as gifts from a holy sovereign God and worship Him for that truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment